(Reuters) – Bianca Andreescu became the youngest player to reach the final at Indian Wells in 20 years after the teenager beat Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-3 2-6 6-4 at the BNP Paribas Open on Friday. The 18-year-old Canadian continued her magical run by overcoming sixth seeded Svitolina to set up a final with three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber who beat Belinda Bencic 6-4 6-2.
“This past week, it’s been a dream come true playing in front of these amazing crowds,” Andreescu said in a courtside interview after putting her name alongside Serena Williams who reached and won the 1999 final at 17.
“Today, I believed in myself playing against these top players. I’ve watched them play so many times on TV so it’s so incredible to play against them and win.”
Andreescu has shown a knack for competing against top players having beaten Caroline Wozniacki in Auckland earlier this year.
Against Svitolina, she survived two hours and 12 minutes of rollercoaster tennis to prevail.
Svitolina broke Andreescu’s service twice in the first three games to storm to a 3-0 lead. But the youngster stormed back with aggressive groundstrokes to win six straight games and the opening set where she claimed 26 of the last 35 points.
Svitolina refused to squander another fast start in the second set, though, where she dominated.
In the decider, Andreescu showed resilience by saving nine of the 10 break points against her and breaking Svitolina twice out of her three chances to win.
“In the third set I kept my composure, at least tried to. I pumped myself up,” Andreescu said.
“It was a crazy match. It was a roller coaster. I’m really happy I pulled through.”
Kerber reached the final by overcoming the red hot Bencic who defeated world number one Naomi Osaka this week and was coming off a win in Dubai last month.
Kerber overcame a 4-2 deficit in the opening set to reach her first career final in Indian Wells.
“I was trying to focus only on my side of the court. I was trying to play concentrated, and going for it when I had the chance,” Kerber said. “I’m really happy to be in the final for the first time now.” The Swiss Bencic made 27 unforced errors to just 14 winners.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)